China Telecom, the country’s third largest mobile operator, reported strong results for the January to September period, with its profit and revenue rising 7 per cent and its 4G user base nearly doubling since the beginning of the year.
The operator’s net profit for the first nine months of the year increased 7.2 per cent to CNY17.5 billion ($2.6 billion) on operating revenue of CNY264 billion, which was also up 7 per cent year-on-year. Its EBITDA fell 0.6 per cent to CNY234 billion.
Service revenue expanded 5.6 per cent to CNY233 billion.
Operating expenses increased 7.9 per cent from a year ago to CNY25.7 billion, with network costs jumping 20 per cent because the company was required to pay tower leasing fees to China Tower after handing over certain tower assets last year. The cost of equipment rose about 10 per cent along with a healthy increase in handset sales. Its net finance costs dropped 18 per cent to CNY2.6 billion, benefitting from a lower interest rate on the loan for the deferred payment of its mobile network acquisition.
The operator, with 212 million mobile subscribers, added 14.6 million users in the first three quarters. Its 4G user base expanded by 49 million to 107.5 million during the period.
Handset data traffic more than doubled to 833 petabytes during the period, as the monthly average data traffic for 4G users reached 920MB. It said ARPU increased slightly during the period.
Wireline broadband subscribers grew 6.7 per cent to 121 million, with FTTH customers accounting for 81 per cent of the total.
China Telecom was the last of the country’s three mobile players to report results for the January-September period. Market leader China Mobile reported a net profit of CNY88.1 billion ($13 billion), up 3.1 per cent year-on-year, on revenue of CNY542.7 billion, up 4.3 per cent.
Two weeks ago China Unicom issued its third profit warning of 2016, stating a substantial increase in expenses led to a 80.6 per cent year-on-year drop in its net profit to CNY1.59 billion ($292 million). Its revenue for the first nine months of the year fell 2.3 per cent to CNY207 billion ($31 billion), with mobile service revenue flat at CNY109.6 billion.